My dear grandma is 92. She lives in an assisted living facility in Iowa and she has the spunk of a teenager. Like most grandmas, she’s always been proud of my accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Now with the release of my debut book only months away, she’s bursting her buttons.
She might boast about me to her friends, but once she starts reading my book, will she actually like it? Maybe she’ll think the romance is too sensual. Perhaps she won’t like the realistic way I’ve tried to portray the violence of the 1600’s. She might even think I’m sacrilegious to take the life of a real person and twist it into a fictitious tale.
I won’t be disappointed if she doesn’t like it. In fact, I have a feeling there will probably be a number of other family and friends who will buy The Preacher’s Bride to support me but won’t particularly enjoy the book (yes, including some of you, my loyal blogging friends).
The fact is, I have to keep my expectations realistic. It’s easy to start thinking all my blogging followers, twitter pals, and long-lost friends on facebook will buy my book, read it, and actually like it. Some might not like historicals, others may not want a romance, still others won’t consider picking up anything unless it’s Amish.
Bottom line: Our books won’t appeal to everyone.
Not everyone is going to want to “buy” our books. That goes for agents, publishers, as well as family and friends.
*Agents: Agents are attracted to different projects for various reasons. Of course they’re always looking for a well-crafted, saleable story. But agents have differing tastes in what they’re drawn to and we would be wise to try to get a grasp on what they’re looking for.
Many agents have client lists on their blogs—I suggest looking at the types of books they represent, perhaps reading a few to get a feel for what appeals to them. Take the time to get to know them through Twitter and blogging. This may help narrow the search for agents who will be most likely to “buy” our books.
*Publishers: Publishers often gain a reputation for certain types of books. For example, my publisher, Bethany House, is known for putting out terrific historical romances. Sure, they represent other genres. But they’ve built a name for strong historical romances.
I personally think it’s best to have the expertise insider advice of an agent in finding the publishers who will be most likely to “buy” our books. But we can also do our homework. Make a list of the top houses that represent work similar to ours. Look at their websites, browse through their books at a bookstore, get a feel for their tastes.
*Family & Friends: Forgive me for stating the obvious again: Not everyone is going to want to buy our books. It’s something I’m telling myself, especially the closer I get to the release of my book. And I won’t be offended if YOU don’t (although if you refuse, you may force me to TP your front yard with The Preacher’s Bride bookmarks).
It’s best to remember the bulk of our fans are Readers of our genre. I’m learning that there are a few places I can begin to connect with readers. I’ve recently signed up for accounts on GoodReads,Shelfari, WeRead,BookArmy, & LibraryThing. I want to be in the places where readers congregate so that I can begin to connect with the people who will enjoy my book the most. Many of these sites have pages for authors, as well as ways to chat with readers, do book giveaways, and draw in new fans.
Will my Grandma like my book? Will my nephew serving in Iraq like my book? (Last week he was very sweet and told me he was going to order it!) Will faithful blog readers like my book? Will they like yours?
Friends and family will support us, be proud of us, and cheer us on. But not everyone will fall madly in love with our books. As much as we want to strive to have a saleable, marketable books, we just can't expect to please everyone. We have to know our target audience, the true fans of our genre. They're the readers we'll want to please.
Where does that leave us? Be wise with professionals. Be realistic with friends. And most of all, make sure we love what we’re writing. Because when we’re passionate about it, it’s a lot easier to get others to love it too.
Will your Grandma like your book? Do you have realistic expectations about who will like your book? And do you know your target auidence, agents, and publishing houses?